WIDE-BODIED import Dior Lowhorn admitted his job just got more challenging when Barangay Ginebra slotman Japeth Aguilar went down with a sprained MCL on his right knee last month.
Aguilar’s injury suffered during Ginebra’s 91-104 loss to Barako Bull on August 30 compounded the team's frontline woes as he joined veteran forward Kerby Raymundo at the sidelines.
The 6’5” Raymundo has been joining Ginebra's practice since last week and has suited up for games, but has yet to be fielded in by coach Ato Agustin since recovering from a bone bruise on his left knee.
Without Aguilar’s athleticism and Raymundo’s veteran presence, Lowhorn has carried much of the load for the Gin Kings, raising his scoring average from just 23 points during the team’s first two games to 32 in the team’s last five games.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge for now (to play without Aguilar and Raymundo) because that takes away our depth and sometimes, we have to play people out of position,” the Texas Tech product told Spin.ph after the team’s practice at the Xavier gym in San Juan City.
Lowhorn doesn’t mind the extra banging inside as well as the added responsibility to score inside when the offense is needed, though he remains upbeat with the Gin Kings’ playoff hopes as they anticipate Aguilar and Raymundo's return to active play come the quarterfinals.
But first things first, Lowhorn said the Gin Kings need to take care of business in their last two games this week.
“Obviously, we miss Japeth on defense and his rebounding, but as long as we play as a team, we still have depth even if we miss one or two players. And hopefully, we can keep winning while Japeth and Kerby will come back next week to help us in the playoffs. So that’s the goal,” added the 26-year-old Lowhorn, who played as one of Saigon Heat’s imports early this year in the Asean Basketball League.
On the other hand, Ginebra superstar Mark Caguioa said looking at the team’s depleted frontline won’t help the Gin Kings mentally as they try to win their last two games to make one last push for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
“I know (Japeth’s) such a big help for us. But we can’t think about that (Aguilar and Raymundo’s absence). We can’t look at what we don’t have,” said the reigning PBA Most Valuable Player.
“We just got to look at what we have and work from there.”
Ginebra tries to formalize its entry into the quarterfinals when the league’s most popular ball club goes up against Globalport on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings currently carry a 3-4 record. The Batang Pier tote a 3-5 slate.